Improving Upon Swiss
Swiss is a ubiquitous tournament format for games. It’s easy to understand and elegant to run. Compared to other systems, a double loss elimination tournament for example, it maintains a minimum number of rounds while not eliminating players from the tournament. It even works well with WMs multiple victory conditions without bias. This provides a fairly high bar for finding improvement but in the end it only means Swiss is still the worst tournament format used, except for all the others tried thus far.
The issues with Swiss and WM are well known at this point. WM base game length means running an event longer then the minimum number of rounds is not feasible. This exaggerates the primary issue, which is the randomness in final standings for the player who didn’t win the tournament. This is particularly frustrating in WM as it translates into prizes as well as determining who made the cut but does so based on factors outside the individual players control. First round byes in this system are especially punishing.
What I’m proposing is modifying Swiss in some fairly simple ways. The core of the system remains a Swiss style tournament pairings with a minimum number of rounds as defined in Steamroller. The primary difference is that pairings are done by tournament points earned not by your win/loss record.
At the end of each match a player would earn tournament points by taking the maximum of one of three categories: control points earned to a maximum of 5, caster kill as 5 points or a point for every X army points of the enemy army destroyed. The X points required would obviously scale based on game size: 8 points for 35, 11 for 50. The winner of the match would earn an extra point. Games going to time would result in both players simply earning their current point total with no declared winner. A Bye would earn the player 6 points.
At the end of the tournament your final placing is done by tournament points. The first tie breaker is did the two players play each other and who scored more points in that game. The second tie breaker is the average of their opponent’s tournament points.
How does this improve upon Swiss? It is still an elegant system that is easy to understand. It maintains the minimum number of rounds that the core Swiss system uses and doesn’t favor assassination over scenario victory. It also gives an impetus to finish games to earn the maximum number of points.
The issue with the final placing system has a number of improvements. Noticeably there would be a wider spread of points compared to the Win/Loss system as well as a secondary check before it defaults to SoS. This puts the onus for the players final position on them, not on randomness in the system. More subtlety this improves upon the matching algorithm compared to the pure Swiss system. Better players will play against better players faster with the point spread created here. If it then does comes to a SoS tiebreaker it will make for a less random SoS then a regular Swiss because of this sorting.
There are other potential consequences as well. Players will have more incentive to keep playing if they lose a close match because it’s not as punishing to your overall record as the current system. Players who decide to drop a tournament are also doing far less damage to their opponents final standing. Again, players will also have more reason for fast, decisive play because they lose tournament points by going to time.
I’ve tried this system once so far, and was fairly happy with the results but this is all still heavily under experimentation. Matchmaking can be a little trickier with the points spread, byes and dealing with who has played who, but it still provides a workable solution in the end. If you try it out I would love to hear how it worked for you, or any suggestions you have. Thanks for reading!